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Independent Science Panel to EPA: Teflon Chemical is 'Likely' Human Carcinogen

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, June 28, 2005

WASHINGTON, June 28 - A panel comprised mostly of independent scientists advising the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found today that DuPont's Teflon chemical, PFOA, is a "likely human carcinogen." The findings are part of a recommendation to EPA that clashes with a go-slow approach Bush EPA officials have so far taken in the face of evidence suggesting the chemical giant knew its chemical would pollute Americans' bloodstreams, was toxic and practically never broke down once released into the environment.

EPA is in the critical final stages of the largest-ever investigation of its kind to determine how the chemical gets into consumers' blood - and whether or not it is safe. The company could face the maximum fine from EPA of $314 million for illegally suppressing birth defect and safety studies. Agency officials, however, have hinted that they are considering a much lower fine of $13 million.

DuPont is also the subject of a federal criminal probe into its suppression of the studies.

"Scientists independent of chemical industry money looked at the toxicity of this chemical, and the verdict is clear: This Teflon chemical should be considered a likely human carcinogen. If EPA officials needed a reason to level the maximum fine against this $24.6 billion company, they have it now," said EWG Senior Vice President Richard Wiles. "DuPont might be politically connected with an army of lobbyists, but it should still be held accountable."

On July 6, the scientific panel will discuss its recommendations that the Agency strengthen its health precautions over the Teflon chemical.

EWG staff Toxicologist Dr. Tim Kropp and Wiles are available to brief reporters on the panel's findings.
To set up an interview, please call Lauren Sucher at 202/667-6982.

Excerpts from the panel's report follow:

"In considering the collective evidence the majority of panel members concluded that the experimental weight of evidence with respect to the carcinogenicity of PFOA was stronger than proposed in the draft document, and suggested that PFOA is a 'likely' carcinogen in humans." (p. 2)
"In the evaluation of carcinogenicity, the Panel supports the inclusion of multiple cancer endpoints" (p. 3)
"Immunotoxicity has been reported, and derivations of MOEs for such effects are encouraged. Given the prevalence of PPAR receptors, including PPAR-alpha in brain, effects on nervous system structure and function warrant attention." (pp. 3-4)

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The Environmental Working Group uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. Their four years' worth of research on Teflon chemicals is available at http://www.ewg.org/health.

The EPA advisory panel's report is available at: http://www.epa.gov/sab/panels/pfoa_rev_panel.htm.